Everything I have read says you should take a day off in between long runs/intense workouts for rest and recovery of your muscles and joints. However, when training for a marathon and there being an odd number of days during the week I find that sometimes I have to run 2 days back to back. It is very important to rest your muscles after each workout/run. When you push your muscles you deplete the muscle energy stored. Your muscles recover quicker when you can eat/drink easily digested foods soon after depleting them. I can not eat directly after running 5-8 miles, therefore I need an alternative way to replenish my muscles fast without making my stomach queasy. This is especially important when I do my back to back days. So I am finding that recovery is a combo of three things: what I load into my muscles prior to my run/workout, what I load into my muscles after I run/workout, and a hydration strategy.
Part 1 --
What I load into my muscles before I run/workout:
Of course this is helpful for those who have established a routine of regular intense workouts. Intense workouts can be of varying degrees based on the person. For the sake of confusion, I am going to base this at my level while training, which I think is intermediate intensity. I strength train 3 days a week for 45-50 min and run 4 days a week, anywhere from 40min to (as of now) 1.3hours. A good baseline is that you burn 100cal for every mile ran. So when I take on a nice 8mile run, I am looking at burning at least 800cals, plus vitamins and nutrients.
So, I need to be sure that I am feeding my muscles right. Right now I am eating about 55-60 percent of my calories from carbohydrates. Not 'bad carbs", but complex carbs from fruits, veggies, pasta, bread, rice - I eat A LOT of long grain brown rice. Bad carbs come from the sugars: fructose, glucose, sucrose (table sugar). Another 20% of my diet is protein. I usually eat about 70g of protein/day. Lastly, fats. You need fat. You just got to find the good fat to eat. My diet is about 20%fat. Mostly, my fat is from some dairy, red meat, instant oatmeal, power bars, etc. I roughly eat about 30-50g of fat/day. Because I have high cholesterol - hopefully not much longer-, I keep a watch on my saturated fats, which are in a lot of dairy. My pantry and refrig now carries 98% reduced fat or fat free products. Remember too much fat and your muscles won't use it, instead your body will STORE it - hello...muffin top! I am a creature of habit. Most mornings I eat instant oatmeal, cereal, or a fiber bar. Before a marathon (my only 5.6 miler under my belt) I eat a bowl of weight control banana bread instant oatmeal (loaded with protein and fiber), 4oz of fat free milk(more protein), and guzzle 16 oz of water 1-1.5hours prior. I then for some carbs eat a piece of whole grain wheat toast 45min prior. Also, the night before a run I carbohydrate pack. I will eat a big pasta dish and drink lots of water. The idea is to load up on carbohydrates a few days prior to competition to give energy stores the chance to fill up. "Carbo loading" meals contain 65-70% carbohydrate by calories.
This week, Skinny Tuesday will continue on Wed as well. I have a lot to say this week!